Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Backyard Movie Nights: the Kickoff

Our little saga of summer entertaining continued last Friday as we hosted our first Backyard Movie Night of the season.  It was sort of a test run to see how well our visual/audio set up worked, etc.  Everything turned out great and we look forward to throwing these little movie nights every couple of weeks through the summer and early fall.

For those who are curious about our basic set up, we have this 120-Inch Portable Outdoor Movie Screen which provides a fantastic viewing experience yet is still quick to assemble and easy to store/transport.  It's definitely a splurge, but we've been really impressed and happy with the quality of the screen.  I certainly wouldn't suggest it if you're only planning on throwing a one-time backyard movie night, but since we plan to get a ton of use out of ours, we think it was a good investment.

We also purchased a high-quality projector to ensure great video quality.  Again, if you're only planning to throw a one-time movie night, I'd suggest perhaps looking into renting a projector or borrowing one from a friend.  Hubby had been wanting to purchase a projector for some time anyway, so we went ahead and invested in a nice one that we'll use for years to come.

Sound was our one concern when it came to throwing these movie nights.  As you can see in the photo, our home sits on a modest lot in a tight subdivision.  We knew we couldn't use any loud speakers to provide sound for our movies or we'd risk upsetting neighbors (and we're very cautious about being polite neighbors).  My hubby came up with the brilliant idea to purchase a radio transmitter and several small battery operated radios to pass out to guests.  These worked out great as there were several modest pockets of sound throughout the audience.  You could hear the movie perfectly, yet the sound didn't carry at all outside our yard to potentially disturb anyone.  There were a few folks a couple of houses away talking outside on their lawn and they were actually louder than our movie!  Other than the light of the projection on the screen (which was no brighter than a porch light), you wouldn't know there was any sort of party going on in our yard.  I'm really happy with how everything worked out... we were able to successfully enjoy our film while throwing a low-key gathering that wouldn't disturb our neighbors.

As for refreshments (which are just as important as the film itself), I set up a little assortment of the standard movie snacks.  In an effort to keep the event fairly low maintenance, I resisted the urge to overly style the setup.  I would definitely suggest taking a little more time to spruce things up if you're planning a backyard movie night as a special event; however, since these are going to be frequent gatherings at our home over the next few months, I wanted to keep things a little more simple.

I served an assortment of fun, fruity sodas in lidded cups with colorful straws.  I also purchased a slew of kraft food and drink trays for our movie nights.  If you're not interested in purchasing these in bulk like I did, there are several Etsy sellers who offer them in smaller quantities.  Since we're planning on hosting several movie nights and various other parties throughout the summer, I went ahead and stocked up on drinks, straws, trays, etc. in bulk to save money and to be prepared for the summer ahead.

For food we grilled up hot dogs, had a ton of popcorn with various seasonings, a big bowl of assorted fun size candy, Oreos, homemade cake batter ice cream, and some brownies (thanks to a friend who brought those).  There was a nice assortment of sweet and savory snacks befitting a movie viewing.  I plan to keep the snacks pretty low key for the showings, mostly popcorn, candy, and soda, making one or two homemade treats per showing.  It's my goal to get the food and decor for these movies down to a "science" so I can get everything set up for these movies in under an hour.

I really love how well the food and drink trays worked out.  I picked up some inexpensive popcorn bags from Sam's Club and some hot dog trays from the dollar section at Target.  Everything fit perfectly and had it's own place, making enjoying your snack in the dark a breeze.

I lined our fence with tea lights in my handmade mason jar lanterns and they provided a cute ambiance and a little guidance along the path to and from our backyard.

We ended up watching Ghostbusters for our first movie of the summer.  I thought something fun and little nostalgic would be cute for our first showing.  I think we'll end up watching a mixture of popular newer releases as well as old favorites.

Once fall approaches and it begins to get dark earlier, we're thinking it might be fun to have a few double feature nights.  I also am totally excited about the possibility of doing a Halloween themed showing or two in October, starting out the evening around the fire pit making homemade s'mores and roasting hot dogs.

Everyone loves a movie night and their is something so fun and special about throwing one in your own backyard.  You can go all out and have a chic styled event, or take a slightly more causal route like I did.  Either way, the backyard movie night is sure to be a hit with everyone!


  1. I'm convinced you live in my subdivision! Super cute, lady! You've got style!

  2. Ok, can I please be your friend? Because you throw the best, most thoughtful parties EVER!


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